To talk about the Internet of Things in China is to talk about manufacturing.
Manufacturing spending on IoT technologies in China is estimated to rise to $127.5 billion by 2020. Since China currently produces a large chunk of the world’s electronics (including technologies like sensors and microchips that are fundamental to the IoT), the country is well positioned to shape the backbone of connected homes, IoT-integrated infrastructure, and smart cities around the world.
The Made in China 2025 initiative, for example, focuses on comprehensively upgrading the country’s industries and IoT infrastructure. In addition to country-wide initiatives like this, several China-based startups are helping shape the rapidly growing IoT industry in this region of the world and beyond. Their efforts are being fueled largely by advancements in AI and big data.
“AI is the engine of the rocket that takes us to the next frontier, but data is the fuel that powers the engine,” says Sundeep Gantori, UBS Equity Analyst at UBS Wealth Management. “That’s something the Chinese AI-based engines have much more of than what we see in Western societies. We think that today China is in a far better position than in any of the previous industrial revolutions.”
A number of companies are helping drive China forward in the AI and IoT arenas. Below are three names you should know.
Ayla Networks is an IoT cloud platform tailored to manufacturers. The company touts itself as an end-to-end platform for IoT solutions, and it also offers a mobile IoT design kit for developers.
Ayla’s development lab and prototype manufacturing center in Shenzhen (known as the manufacturing hub of China) focus on software development, product design, IoT security, and feasibility of design. Earlier in 2017, Ayla announced a partnership with China Unicom, one of the region’s major telecom providers, to develop smart home and IoT solutions on a global scale.
“We see tremendous promise in working with China Unicom to build new IoT solutions that enhance the growing Ayla IoT platform ecosystem,” said Phillip Chang, Vice President and general manager of Greater China for Ayla Networks, in a recent on the company’s website. Chang also explains that the development of mobile IoT solutions is a top priority for the company.
Ayla has its sights set on global efforts in addition to domestic manufacturing. The company will work with other Chinese organizations to develop products for international markets (North America, Europe, and non-OECD nations), as well as help global companies introduce their products to China.
LifeSmart leverages the power of artificial intelligence to advance the global smart home market through innovative products.
We believe that every single home will become a smart home, every single office will become a smart office.
“We believe that every single home will become a smart home, every single office will become a smart office,” reads the LifeSmart website. “We dedicate our efforts on AI, cloud service, product design and development.”
The company produces a variety of smart home products – the usual suspects like smart thermostats, lighting, and home security cameras, but also more out-there products like a smart formaldehyde sensor, air quality sensors, and connected air purifiers. The result is a one-stop shop for a comprehensive smart home ecosystem.
In 2015, the startup secured a round of Series A funding from Haier SAIF (an IoT joint venture between Haier and SAIF Partners) and the electronics manufacturing company Foxconn. Today, LifeSmart serves over a million customers in 30 countries, and it collaborates with major companies like Alibaba, Baidu, Samsung, and SONY.
The foundational platforms that serve as the basis for the Internet of Things may not be as exciting as the fancy gadgets making their way into smart homes, but IoT solutions providers are arguably just as important to the trend of overall progress. Gizwits, an AI-driven platform, provides developers with IoT management tools, data analytics modules, and PaaS and SaaS cloud services.
There’s a huge market for services that can help traditional businesses make the transition to “smart” or connected companies. As brick-and-mortar retailers in China face increasing pressure to modernize, startups like Gizwits have an opportunity to contribute to the transformation of both the retail and consumer goods industries.
For example: Traditional retail stores may use Gizwits’ platform to intelligently track in-store customer behavior, and thus streamline the shopping experience. These services ultimately help older retailers compete with ecommerce giants like Alibaba or JD.com, which have taken over China’s economy in recent years.
As an open-source platform, Gizwits offers developers a foundation for building upon existing connected technologies -use cases for the technology are far-reaching and wide-ranging. Today, Gizwits’ products are currently used in smart homes, smart traffic, smart cities, and industrial applications.
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